Lawmakers in Hawaii recently voted in an 80% tax rate on tobacco products which could hit vapers and e-cigarette users quite hard. The law now considers any product which contains the chemical nicotine to be a tobacco product, and lays this heavy 80% tax on them. This will include e-cigarettes, which are currently used by many smokers who are attempting to quit traditional cigarettes, and could result in new vapers being deterred by this tax.
Senators in Hawaii have apparently deliberately targeted e-cigarettes Rosalyn Baker, one of the senators who voted in the new bill, saying that they had “raised the cigarette tax” a few times, and had seen that smokers were moving straight from cigarettes onto e-cigarettes. The former have previously had a high price tag, while the latter were considerably cheaper. However, the senator said that e-cigarettes ‘can kill…just as easily’, and that by introducing the law, they were trying to not only discourage smoking, cut also “Provide a disincentive for other tobacco products”.
Concerned vapers are unsure why lawmakers would choose to discourage people from using e-cigarettes. In most cases, they are tobacco-free, meaning that they didn’t fall under previous classifications, and they also don’t produce second-hand smoke or vapour. They are also considered to be a better health choice than traditional cigarettes. This should mean that governments should be keen to move their cigarette smokers on to e-cig use, but in fact by pricing both products at the same level, traditional smokers have less incentive to quit and become vapers.
Vape suppliers in Hawaii have announced their frustration with this new bill, and many sellers now fear that they may have to close their stores as vapers stop buying e-cigarettes. The Hawaii-based e-cigs company Volcano is one of a number of companies that are expressing concern at the consequences of the bill. CEO of Volcano E-cigs, Cory Smith, has said that his Hawaii stores will now be at a disadvantage, when compared to shops in states that don’t use this tax. “The proposed tax would…decimate the vapour industry here.” Smith said, “I would then need to take a significant proportion of our (Volcano E-cigs’) operations out of the state.” Smith has also said that the tax would mean large price hikes on all of their vaping products. “Tax on 10-cent cigarettes doesn’t mean a whole lot…a tax on a $20 bottle of e-liquid will mean drastic price changes. Currently, tobacco revenue is falling, so this [the tax] feels like…new ways of making money out of [former smokers]. These…products aren’t the same.”
Since Hawaii currently has 60 vape shops in the state, Smith stated that he fears that all of them will be affected, and will lose customers. “A tax….would put me at a…disadvantage because [Volcano e-cigs’] customers would just go online.” He then asked how Hawaii thought that they would generate 80 percent tax revenues without competition inside Hawaii.
What are Vapers’ views on whether Hawaii’s vape shops will survive after the new tax becomes law?